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Off the Shelf: Troubled times and troubled children

 by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Parents and children: that can be a volatile mix, whether it’s due to differing politics or different views on the correct way to live. For example, in David Laskin’s “What Sammy Knew” (Penguin Books), the political clash between Sam Stein and his father c…

Being a Jewish teenager by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

For some teenagers, being Jewish plays a major role in their lives. For others, it’s a minor part of their identity, at least until they come face-to-face with antisemitism. Seeing their lives reflected in the novels they read, however, is something both they and …

A synagogue and a frozen yogurt shop by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

What possible connections could there be between a synagogue and a frozen yogurt shop? They both serve as buildings that offer meaningful lessons, or at least they do in two recent novels: “The Rabbi Who Prayed with Fire: A Rabbi Vivian Mystery” by Rachel Sharon…

Daily life and political despair by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

Warning: If you prefer to view Israel through rose-colored glasses, then you should skip this review of Rebecca Sacks’ novel “City of a Thousand Gates” (Harper). If you’re hoping that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be easily resolved, you should think …

Graphic works for all ages by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

When a writer offers long descriptions of people and places, my mind rarely forms a visual image from the text. Instead those words create an emotional mood – one that may not be completely faithful to the author’s intent. That’s one reason I enjoy books with …